15 December 2010

Chef Nico at the James Beard House

James Beard House, NYC

The primary reason for my trip to NYC was to attend Chef Nico Romo's, dinner at the James Beard House last night. How could I resist an opportunity like that?

It was cold and dark out last night and just a small sign let us know we were at the right brownstone. Chef Nico looked relaxed and I was happily impressed to learn how many of the guests had traveled from Charleston to support him.

There is a little entry area and then we all walked a narrow path past a tiny open kitchen area. The walls were lined with maps of the world and cooking accessories were hanging everywhere. Nico and his team of three had driven their truck filled with food and had arrived the night before.

Dec. 14, 7:00 P.M. French with an Asian Twist

South Carolina’s only Maitre Cuisinier de France (and one of the world’s youngest), Lyon native Nico Romo brings his je ne sais quoi and Asian accents to the sophisticated French cooking at Fish. A hot spot on Charleston’s restaurant scene, Fish is also known for its fine wines, which will accompany this Beard House debut.

The dinner had sold out promptly and all 85 guests squeezed into a tiny reception room at the back of the house. I sneaked upstairs early to check out the layout but didn't stay long since Nico's appetizers are one of my favorites things and I especially liked the tiny servings of curried crab soup.

Amazingly they did find a seat for everyone in the two rooms on the second floor. The building still looks much like a home with portraits of James Beard hanging over the mantles. Two thirds of our table was already filled with sparkling glasses for the wine pairings.

Escargot dumplings (yum), bouillabaisse, red porgy, duck a l'orange, beef bourguinon and pan seared petite fillet, goat yogurt cake and banana creme brulee....it was a wonderful evening and I feel so lucky to be included. Chef Nico and his team earned a standing ovation and we were sent home with little gift boxes filled with treats.

There was an official James Beard photographer who was very welcoming and I didn't feel responsible for the official food plate shots so I could get the happy crowd pictures. I will upload more to this album but meanwhile I need to get to bed. Apparently there is this thing called 'work" that has to be dealt with in the morning.